The Sellafield Bakery

“The Sellafield Bakery” is about the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant in England, which dumps technetium-99 into the Irish sea. When absorbed by humans it accumulates in the thyroid gland and intestine and causes cancer. I’m not involved in the “Stop Sellafield” movement, but back in the summer of ’92 U2 did a protest in hazmat suits and zodiac boats off the shore of England which was written up in Rolling Stone along with pertinent facts about Sellafield’s dumping of nuclear waste into the water that laps on the shores of Irish beaches. Yeah, it’s been going on that long…and it’ll be keep going for several more years at the very least.

The Rolling Stone article inspired me to write “The Sellafield Bakery”. I wrote the lyrics: July 8th, 1992 and the music July 9th, 1992 on my old Harmony nylon strong guitar. (I used an acoustic electric for recording.) Though the song is old, the topic is unfortunately still relevant. 🙁 It’s a dark lullaby of a protest song. It fits iinto our Life and Death project nicely.

Poster: Gymshoes. Category: News. Tags:
27 September

18 Responses to “The Sellafield Bakery”

  1. hockinfinger says:

    I have two different ideas for this tune. One is to keep the guitar, add an acoustic bass, and pennywhistle for a sort of Irish folk feel. The other idea is a tinkly electric piano lullaby, sort of a Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood feel.

  2. Gymshoes says:

    I like both ideas: I’ve been trying to imagine some way to combine them. 😀 Can we get the Irish folk feel and a tinkly electric piano? 🙂

    I typically played this on a nylon string guitar, but I thought that would be too soft to allow the song to develop into anything more, so that’s why I plugged in the acoustic-electric to record. If we keep the guitar, I’ll need to rerecord it: would I need to change the sound, try to get it cleaner?

    I think I’ll hold off re-recording this (unless you say otherwise) to see what develops with other instruments.

  3. hockinfinger says:

    I think the original guitar could work as it is. I hope to have a few short partial mixes maybe this weekend. One with electric piano (played very similar to what the guitar is doing) & acoustic bass, one with guitar and acoustic bass, and one with guitar, bass and sparse piano chords. Then you’ll have to choose. The pennywhistle could be added to any of the three for that Irish touch. BTW, my pennywhistle is homemade, and is not quite the shrill metallic sound in traditional pennywhistles… it’s PVC. I’ve decided my next PVC instrument will be didgeridoo. OK monkeys, lets have some aboriginal song ideas.

  4. Gymshoes says:

    The pennywhistle sounds interesting. I have an antique tin one (which I can’t play very well) around here somewhere (no idea where). I’ll be interested to hear the PVC version. 🙂 Looking forward to hearing you two versions: btw, if my sloppy fingerpicking at any point baffles the ear, the chord changes are in the lyrics.txt file—and I can always tell you the fingerpicking pattern if you have any questions about what you’re hearing. The guitar I used has sustain that’s almost too good: notes overlap in a way I never hear with my other guitar. 🙄

    Aboriginal music: I have a homemade bullroarer—but since the only way to “play” it is to swing it around in the backyard I can’t guarantee that I could record it very well. 😉 But if you make that digeridoo, I’ll give the bullroarer a spin. 😀

  5. Ronnie says:

    I can break out my Turtle shells and cajon that’s prettu organic

  6. hockinfinger says:

    I’ve uploaded my first test of this song. This one has guitar, bass, pennywhistle and vocal, hence my coded filename:
    I hope to have a few alternate versions to upload before the weekend is over.

  7. hockinfinger says:

    For the guitar, I used noise reduction (to minimize that 60hz hum), compression (to sort of even out the levels) and BBE sonic maximizer to bring out some of the high end.
    I think there may be some McHockinfingers in my ancestry.

  8. Gymshoes says:

    OH, I like this. 😀 What did you do to my guitar? The tone sounds better. Your vocal almost sounds like you have an Irish accent. Any Irish genes in the Hockinfinger ancestry? 😉

  9. hockinfinger says:

    Another short clip, this time with electric piano instead of guitar.


  10. Ronnie says:

    I was listening to Marty’s Guitar part while playing second life online. The back ground sound track of a creek babbling in the game continued to play while I listened to the Guitar track it was a very serendipitous discovery. I think this track needs water sounds running through the background.

    I like the guitar part better than the piano, but I could see how the piano could possibly come in later in a secondary role.

  11. Gymshoes says:

    I, too, like the guitar better than the piano…I’m not sure why, but the piano doesn’t do it for me. I like the idea of using water sounds (though an ocean would be more apt for the lyric than a babbling brook). I’ve uploaded a couple of samples: one is an effect I think I got from Marty last year: babbling_brook.mp3 and the other is something I recorded: water.mp3. Marty, you might want to run water.mp3 through your noise reduction program and see if there’s any hiss that can be eliminated. Also, the volume would need to be boosted to be useable in the song. The two files sound very different, tonally; I’m not sure which would be better in this context.

  12. Gymshoes says:

    Decision time: I’d planned on doing another recording of the guitar part to see if I could improve it…but Marty said he thought the guitar was usable as it is. What do you guys think? Should I make another pass at it or has Marty’s digital wizardry sufficiently transformed it?

    What’s the next step for this song?

  13. hockinfinger says:

    Were my vocals satisfactory? If so, I could give it a go for the whole song, and add a few more pennywhistle thingies between verses. If not suggestions are welcome.

  14. Gymshoes says:

    I had originally thought Ronnie would do the vocal, but I do like the sort of Irish folk feel your voice brings to it. Both of you could do this song really well. Can you guys flip a coin in cyberspace? I really don’t want to have to choose. More pennywhistle thingys between verses would be great. 🙂 Also, have you listened to the two “water” mp3s I uploaded to this directory? Very different tonalities. What do you think of Ronnie’s idea of adding water?

    About the guitar. Heheheh…I tried rerecording it, but ran into the same problem that bugged me about my original track: the fingerpicking is less smooth in the intro than the verses. So…..I took the best-sounding verse from the original track and slotted it in as the intro and used it to replace a couple of other verses that had odd artifacts in the sound. See: sellafield_guitar_revised.mp3 Process it the way you did the guitar for your test file and we should be set for guitar. 🙂

  15. Gymshoes says:

    In the absence of any consensus, I’m going to go ahead and ask Marty to do the vocal on this. His voice goes well with the Irish folk feel of the song. 🙂

  16. hockinfinger says:

    Uploading a new mix to include complete vocals and pennywhistle.
    Let me know if it needs anything. I’m hoping to figure out how to use the water sounds without it being too overbearing.

  17. Ronnie says:

    Enjoyed listening Marty.
    Makes me wanna run out and buy a Yellow Cake.

    Shoes, I am a real sucker for politically charged irony.
    great song

  18. Gymshoes says:

    Excellent vocal and mix, Marty! 😀 I think the water might work if it’s used sparingly, rather than throughout the song. Maybe fading in and fading out in the instrumental sections behind the pennywhistle. If you bring the guitar down slightly in the instrumental sections you might could fit in a bit of water. At the very least try a fade in and fade out of water in the intro and ending. Ocean would be even better than Water…do either of you have any Ocean samples?

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